Ride Day 43: Sisophon to Anlong Veng
12 August 2016
We wake up relatively early as it’s a potentially big days ride, and we have no idea what the roads are going to be like since we are now heading a bit off the beaten track on the way to Anlong Veng. As a wake up drink, we still have in the fridge the iced coffees we bought the night before. A quick load up of the bikes and a mini service in the car park (bolts tightened, chain tensioned and oiled, cables lubed up) and we head to a local café for a bite of breakfast. It turns out the “Café / Bakery”actually only sells creamcakes as far as food goes. So that decided it, cream cake and fresh juice for breakfast.
As soon as we start off out of town on highway 56 after our breakfast we notice the change in pace on the roads. The main traffic is local farmers with rotorvators pulling either large and heavily laden trailers of produce, or trailers full of people. Everyone has a smile on their faces and the occasional wave as we ride past, along with some looks of astonishment. We are definitely off the beaten track again. The road however is excellent, with no potholes and way less dust than the major roads so far. The views along the roadside are mainly of paddy fields, and people working to plant the paddy’s. Lots of wooden houses on stilts sit grouped together in small villages of 5 – 10 houses. We are both taken back by how green everything is.
After mile after mile of amazing rural scenes and friendly locals, we turn in to a slightly larger populated area of shacks and wooden houses. Then to our disbelief, an unbelievable bridge adorned with beautiful carved stone figures on either side. There is no one else around but locals, so we stop and have a rest break. We still have a beer from the night before in the cool bag, so share that and a water whilst taken in the sight. We then get back on and follow a couple of locals over the bridge to discover a massive temple in the thick forest. An official looking man on a scooter arrives and informs us that the gate is around the other side, but that we can pay him US $5 each. We decline his offer and ride out the way we came in. We later find out that this amazing find is actually one of the furthest removed of the Angkor temples, known as Banteay Chhmar. Well worth a visit too, as it is completely tourist free and a stunning temple surrounded by a beautifully ornate moat.
A kilometer or so up the road from our temple find, and we spot a van at the side of the road selling food on the outskirts of town. Thinking this may be our last chance for food for a few hours, and also both being quite hungry, we stop. The food stall itself is a self contained handmade pizza stall with one man running it. We stop to talk to him for a while and discover he’s been doing it for 2 years or so, since graduating with his batchelors degree. The pizza itself was great, and was interesting to get the insights of the owner on the area and tourists. He also threw in a few insights on the Brexit situation in the UK, and US politics. Quite an unexpected stop.
The road from here whilst still being good tarmac without potholes, became a fair bit bumpier as it shadowed the Thailand border to the north of Cambodia (so bumpy in one place that Traceys bra literally bounced undone). Along the side of the road were some large orchards and Cassava plantations everywhere. This road touches on the beautiful areas of the protected landscape of the north west of Cambodia, and it truly is stunning. The crops at the side of the road are different to when there are paddy fields and the usual ditch, in that the crop now borders right up to the road. This introduced a new hazard to riding, which is dogs and small children that can appear at the roadside with no notice whatsoever. After two such incidents, we took to riding in the middle of the road and a touch slower than before.
In the last 10 kilometres or so in towards Anlong Veng, the plantations and orchards give way to jungle areas bordering the road. Its at that point we realize that in a whole days riding, we have only seen one coach (and it was a local one).
At Anlong Veng itself there is not an abundance of accommodation, being mainly a small market town near the Thai border. The road in passes through the market and past the weir at the foot of the reservoir. Local men and kids are busily fishing in the rapids below the weir, whilst fresh fish and other produce is available at the market. From reading other blogs and guides, we were aware that there were only a handful of places to stay in town, and we opted for the Monorom Villa. Turned out to be a decent little guest house with restaurant attached, which ended up costing only US $12 for the night. We took a wander through town, from one end to the other took about 20 minutes there and back. As we goit to the market near the hotel, a sudden storm hit, so we ran back to the restaurant at the hotel and ended the night there as the storm raged outside.
Full Days Route Here: